The Mail

Everybody loves to check their mailbox. Everyone is hopeful that it will be a hand-written letter from their Grandpa or a birthday card with a five dollar bill in it from an Aunt, or some other kind of surprise, like a rebate check or a tax refund.

I’m waiting for my tax refund. I filed early: about two weeks ago, when I was sure all the important documents had arrived. I did my taxes online and expected my refund check the next week. It’s not a large sum, but it’s something, and I’ll be happy to deposit it in the bank.

But mail isn’t all Christmas cards, postcards and magazine subscriptions. No. There’s a dark side to the mail that we receive…

You open a bright red envelope, thinking it’s a Valentine from someone special (even though it’s the middle of March). But alas this is no Valentine; it is a letter from a creditor demanding payment; their instructions written in bolded black ink. Your anxiety increases as you realize that they have found you. You never knew ordering six “free” CDs from Columbia House would get you into such hot water. You were only 11 years old when you printed your name where the signature was supposed to go. You never liked the selections they automatically sent you (Billy Joel’s Storm Front), and you never knew if you didn’t send the compact disc back within 14 days you would be charged the entire amount. You thought the “contract” would not be legally binding, and here you are 19 years later, the hunted. And now you’re on the hook for Storm Front and five other titles you don’t remember receiving. And with the interest accrued, you now owe Columbia House $6,000, American dollars.

You find a jet-black envelope. Inside is a pre-approved Capital One credit card, with a maximum balance of $10,000 with a 29% interest rate. They also offer the ability to transfer any debt to their credit card. You think about it. Your heart rate quickens.

You see a white envelope, way at the back, your name is typed across the front of the envelope in block letters. The return address is a post office box. You open the envelope with gloved hands and a letter opener, wary of its contents. You slip the letter from the enclosure and push your reading glasses up the bridge of your nose. The letters states:

Dear Ms. Manky,

We have adjusted your 2009 Tax Return and we regret to inform you that there were numerous errors. We find that you are owing in the amount of $3,996.00. Please make your cheque or money order payable to: The Canada Revenue Agency.

It went on.

I went downstairs to check my mailbox one more time. I was hoping to see a birthday card, way at the back, leftover from April of last year, with at least five dollars in it.


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